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Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360) artwork

Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360) review

"Itís fine with me when the game starts to segue into cut scenes built right off the previous gameís frantic war against biological experiments gone wrong and hunting for brains, but it seems to go jarringly against what they tried to do with the last outing. For those of you out there who started the series at 4, prepare to be confused."

Maybe itís a silly thing to say, but I think I might have enjoyed Resident Evil 4 more had it not been labelled a part of the coeval survival horror series. The problem I had with the game had little to do with the game itself -- which was a complete blast -- but, rather, that it lost everything that Iíd loved from the previous titles. The most notable absence being the complete lack of needing to work particularly hard for survival. This could be labelled a bit of a drawback when itís right there in the genre label Resident Evil helped bring to mainstream.

Leonís blood-crazed rampage through infected Spanish serfs might have been overflowing with numbers, but you could find boxes of bullets laying around in dilapidated tool sheds, from fallen pitchfork-wielding old hags and even from the corpses of any crows you felt the need to gun down. By the time the game was all finished up, Leon had enough spare bullets to open his own munitions dump; a far cry from the hazy days of creeping around mansions flooded with the undead, scared to use that last shotgun shell on a gathering of zombies in case the next corner you turned contained a murky hunter just waiting to decapitate you with one single swipe.

Resident Evil 5 suffers from the same disappointing quirk. When Iíd finally seen the game off, I had some 400 handgun bullets, 150 shotgun shells and a thousand machine gun bullets because, well, no one uses the machine gun.

Iím not a big fan of how the series seems unconcerned with forcing you to worry about whether youíre going to survive or if you have the resources left to fend off the next big threat. Moreso, it gets hard to work on forcing Quick Time Events to avoid parasitic hosts riding motorcycles lassoing you with chains, or surviving an Indy Jones-like dash through tumbling Aztec ruins. Iím not overly impressed in how the big boss fights ensure that low ammo counts (which you can only ever fall victim to if you feel an insatiable urge to fire at walls, barrels, and passing cloud formations) matter for nothing and supply a rechargeable super weapon like a scoped RPG launcher or a painter for an Orbital Death Ray to be the key to victory. The game is one brainless slog where you shoot people repeatedly until their heads explode and their bubbling corpses fall at your feet, dissolving into either a pile of gold or the millionth box of bullets youíve seen in under a minute.

That bit of the game, though, Iím cool with.

Itís a silly thing to say that I would enjoy the game more had it been called something like ďChris Redfield offends uptight black peopleĒ but the new titles simply donít feel like they belong under the Resident Evil umbrella [pause for admiration on clever pun], much like the lightgun-based Survivor games, but with significantly less suck. Res 4 was a reboot for the franchise, throwing in the second gameís rookie cop Leon S Kennedy in an adventure that hardly acknowledged the three base games that came before it, effectively marking Capcomís intentions to start the series anew. Resident Evil 5 cockslaps that idea by dropping series veteran, Chris into the game to chase after long-time slightly-English badguy Albert Wesker and look for the other series staple, Jill Valentine.

Itís fine with me when the game starts to segue into cut scenes built right off the founding gameís frantic war against biological experiments gone wrong and hunting for brains, but it seems to go jarringly against what they tried to do with the last outing. For those of you out there who started the series at 4, prepare to be confused by 5.

Itís not the only alteration worth note; Capcom have decided nowís a super time to jump right onboard the co-op bandwagon, and this I cannot complain about. Chris is shipped off to Africa to chase down reports of odd goings on and is joined on his quest by native Sheva whoís more than Capcomís attempt to sidestep the obligatory knee-jerk racism claims by supplying a black character to kill black Ďzombiesí, but also a more viable option for fanservicey close ups of certain parts of the anatomy than a Chris Redfield who looks like heís been snacking on a solid diet of steroids and Weight Gain 2000 since his last outing. The pairing works brilliantly, with or without a second player to control her. Their very first outing leads them into a bitter war against an entire village full of parasitic hosts wanting nothing more than to pulp them via unspeakable violence, supplying a near-infinite swarm of crazed villagers who throw themselves fearlessly at you, armed with machetes, glass bottles and unwavering homicidal urges. Much like the opening battle in the previous game, youíre forced to make desperate dashes from one bubble of safety to the next, trying to dissuade your attackers with small arms fire that doesnít quite cut it when the hooded behemoth carrying an axe thatís twice your size smashes through the wall and tries his utmost to cleave you in half.

Shevaís inclusion here makes life a lot easier. If you fall to these hordes, youíve got a small pocket of time when she can resurrect you, allowing you the chance to limp through the level or get your health back up in time for the next flurry. The computer-controlled version might have some issues with how eager she is to keep you alive, often wanting to waste a full healing item on what could be considered a slight graze, but the second funnel of fire is invaluable. Sure, once or twice, Iíve had to drop the battle I was involved in to run away from a Sheva brandishing a First Aid Spray after doing the equivalent of stubbing my toe, but sheís always there with a knife should I call her after being snuck up on and slapped in a full nelson, or ready to kick the head clean off someone I just shot in the back of the knee.

Wasting precious resources is often a viable tactic thanks to the incompetent fumbling of the new inventory system that gives as much space to a small herb than a fully-loaded grenade launcher, which does nothing but ensure that space gets used up very quickly and is a huge step back from the fourth gameís clever systems of managing your items depending on the bulk of what you want to slog along on your travels. This new system means youíre often fumbling to swap that box of rifle bullets for the shotgun shells with your partner while malformed dogs chew on your face and incredibly rude peasants pelt you with flaming crossbow bolts.

Itís a big complaint, but itís also forgettable in the face of what Resident Evil 5 does well and that to most people is ďeverything elseĒ. Sure, some of you are like me and are going to miss lamenting the times when you used a box of grenades on that hunter gathering, wondering if it will return and bite you in the arse later. Even though 5 does reinvent everyoneís favourite slimy green homicide factories, you can just buy a new box of acid rounds from the shop you visit between missions and after every death to spam them to death with without worries. But most of you will end up getting carried along by an action-heavy title that rarely drops pace and always gives you something to shoot at until it falls down, twitches erratically and vanishes in a fit of bubbling. Whether youíve decided to use up your rocket launcher on that creepy black tar monster that refuses to go down, or battle chainsaw-wielding oddities that might as well have been lifted right from the previous title with cultured blasts of your magnum, a commendable job is done of keeping your finger on the trigger and your eyes on the shadows.

Even if you no longer fear what might be lurking there, trying to beat your team-mate into making its head explode is still undeniably a lot of fun.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 19, 2009)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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True posted April 20, 2009:

Congratulations on the Unlimited Super Magnum. It's a hell of a lot to work that thing up... but !@#$! does it obliterate shit!

I love it.
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EmP posted April 20, 2009:

In my case, it was the constant replaying of the first stage that helped me grab up the points needed to buy the ammo hack. Evereytime someone saw me playing the game, they'd want to jump in and give it a go, so I must have played that first stage with a different co-oper more times than I cae to recall. I had to ween myself off going overkill crazy with the gattling gun in the end because it ballsed up my accuracy and lowered my score.

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